The French Vinci Airports corporation will manage Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport for the next 25 years. The government is counting on the concession boost investment in the airport, but not all are convinced.

Economists are divided on the issue and some think that the benefits to the state and the airport from the concession have been overplayed and that a concession should not have been granted to a profit-making company in the first place.

Vinci had offered €501 million to manage the airport and €732m in investment, as well as an annual fee of up to €16m, which was deemed to be the best offer according to all three criteria – financial, technical and legal.

Just over €400m from the concession bid will be poured into the state budget, while the rest will go to the minority shareholders – the Serbian citizens who received Airport shares in line with the Law on the Right to Free Shares and Monetary Compensation in the 2007 privatisation procedure. The state controls an 83% stake in the Nikola Tesla Airport, while the remainder is owned by minority shareholders and certain banks.

The Serbian government has said that in the next 25 years the planned revenue from the concession and investment will be €1.5bn, while the annual concession fee will range from €4.3m to €16m.

Experts’ opinions on the concession are divided. Economist Ivan Nikolić believes that Serbia has negotiated a good one-time price. The indirect effects in the long term will be even more important – the number of tourists and consequently consumption will grow, which will boost GDP growth.

However, foreign investment consultant Milan Kovačević told Beta that “the concession will not bring the state of Serbia more than it already had.”